The “I like New York” theme creates animal names and conjures up the Syracuse Zoo

Rosamond Gifford Zoo loves New York, and last year the zoo proved it by adopting a name theme for its newcomers, “I Love New York”.

The theme prompted the zoo to name over a dozen animals after locations in New York State – including a male American bison named Madison, a male Sichuan takin named Windsor, and a female rattlesnake from east Massasauga named Cicero.

The theme has been so successful that the zoo plans to continue it through 2020, said zoo director Ted Fox.

“Our zookeepers came up with the ‘I love New York’ theme to honor our great state and it has received a lot of positive feedback,” said Fox. “We even got some media attention from places we used as animal names.”

For example, the Albany Times Union focused on a little goat from San Clemente Island named Troy and asked, “What other metropolitan area locale might be next?”

“Kid’ding aside, the City of Troy is delighted to be recognized by our colleagues in the upstate communities, and we thank the zookeepers and staff for the admission,” Troy spokesman John Salka told the newspaper.

The idea for an annual naming theme for zoo residents started in 2018 when zookeepers decided to name animals that arrived during the zoo’s dinosaur invasion! Exhibition based on characters in “The Land Before Time” films. This resulted in baby snow leopards named Ozzy and Strut and red pandas named Loofah and Doofah, among others.

While the dinosaur theme pretty much exhausted all 13 “Land Before Time” films, New York State has hundreds of place names to choose from, Fox said. The zoo hopes to create even more engagement by encouraging people to suggest New York place names for new animals through social media.

Here is the breakdown of all the “I Love New York” animals that arrived at the zoo in 2019.

  • Windsor, a male Sichuan takin, was born at the zoo on March 9 – the first birth of this endangered species of hoofed mammal in the mountains of China. Windsor is a city in Broome County.
  • Hamilton, a male goat from San Clemente Island, was one of eight baby goats born at the zoo, all of whom were members of this endangered breed. Hamilton was the dwarf and had to be hand-reared. His siblings and cousins ​​- Troy, Verona, Savannah, Ithaca, Elmira, Sidney and Aurora – have now moved to a family farm. Hamilton, named after the city in Madison County, is a popular task animal at the zoo.
  • Peru and Lima, two male Humboldt penguins that hatched at the zoo in early May, are the youngest members of the zoo’s 34-headed penguin colony. Their names reflect their natural habitat on the coast of South America, as well as the New York theme – Peru is a city in Clinton County and Lima is a city in Livingston County.
  • Madison, a male American bison calf, was born at the exhibit on May 9, when hundreds of zoo visitors witnessed his birth. He was the second American bison to be born in the zoo. Madison is a city in Madison County.
  • Milo and Mina, male and female twin Amur leopards, were born at the zoo on June 19. They represent the most endangered big cats in the world. They were named after the town of Milo in Yates County and the town of Mina in Chautauqua County, according to an online vote.
  • · Alfred, a hooded coua, is a colorful bird from Madagascar that came to us from Disney’s animal kingdom. Alfred is a city in Allegany County.
  • Cicero, a female rattlesnake from east of Massasauga, is a locally endangered species found in the Cicero Swamp here in Onondaga County.
  • Holley, a South African porcupine in the Cape, came to the zoo in September at the age of 1. It is named after a city in Orleans County.
  • · Dexter and Derby, two southern Tamanduas, anteaters native to South America, were welcomed to the zoo in November. Dexter is a village in Jefferson County and Derby is a hamlet in Erie County.
  • · Java and Tupper are male Dutch dwarf rabbits who recently joined our team of outreach animals. Java is a city in Wyoming County and Tupper Lake is a village in Franklin County.

Rosamond Gifford Zoo is Syracuse’s accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the gold standard for animal care, welfare and guest experience. For information on zoo events, visit

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